What are essential oils? Are essential oils of any benefit? Are they just for topical use or can they be used internally? Are different types beneficial for different skins? Does it matter where they were grown or how they were processed? What benefits do the different oils have?
Lots of questions, let’s go through them one by one.
Plants have all kinds of wonderful compounds that are beneficial to the human body – typically you hear of the vitamins and minerals, fiber, fatty acids, the antioxidants and maybe the different types of polyphenols. But plants are teaming with all kinds of phytonutrients that Western medicine doesn’t even know that it is using. For instance, metformin, is the most commonly prescribed prescription drug for diabetes and is the isolated synthetic version of a compound called berberine which is found in many herbs. And of course, the natural complete herb works wonderfully well to eliminate diabetes as opposed to managing diabetes while causing all kinds of other issues.
First off the term “essential” is does not mean “nutritionally required” for human functioning like “essential fatty acids” or “essential amino acids”. In plant biology, “essential oil” means it contains the “essence” of the plant’s fragrance.
An essential oils is a concentrated “volatile” oil extracted in plants in a variety of different ways. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, food & drink, and other household products.
Just as different oils are beneficial for different issues, different oils are beneficial for different types of skin.
But more importantly, different companies process oils differently. So one has a lot of information to work through before deciding what oils to use.
First one must be aware of the soils that the plants are grown in. Obviously you want to make sure the soils are good healthy soils and not toxic. Just because there is label that says “Organic” does mean that the soils and the plants are clean. Different countries have different criterion that must be met to get the “Organic” label. And even for those countries that have good definitions and criterion, doesn’t mean that the rules are enforced.
Let’s begin with the different types of processing:
|Distillation||Plant material is placed upon a grid inside a still; sealed;|
|Hydro distillation||If water/steam is used, it slowly breaks through the plant to remove volatile consitutents – which rise up through a connecting pipe that leads into a condenser – it then cools and returns it back to a liquid form; the oil forms on the surface of the water & is siphoned off|
|Expression/ Cold pressed||Most nut and seed oils as well as citrus oils are extracted using this method – oil is forced from the plant under high mechanical pressure – generally produces a quality oil – if it is followed by a chemical means or high heat – it will destroy the quality|
|Absolutes||Solvent extraction||Used with plants that are fragile. Solvents like petroleum ether, methanol, ethanol or hexane are used to extract lipophilic (fat) material – the solvents also tend to draw out the chlorophyll & other plant materials. The resulting absolutes are controversial although they still have some medicinal value|
|Effleurage||A cold-fat extraction that is based upon the principles that fat has a high power of absorption – a relatively stable fat is used to prevent rancidity – used for flower that continue to develop and give off an aroma after harvesting (Jasmine or Tuberose) – but rarely used to today|
|CO2 extracts||Hypercritical||This process is a relatively new process that uses CO2 under pressure which turns CO2 into a liquid from a gas which is then used as a inert liquid solvent which diffuses through the plant material extracting aromatic constituents. However, it is costly, has a potential pesticide residue along with a lack of information about its safety and therapeutic applications.
In general, the following oils are used for different types of skin:
Now let’s look at the medicinal applications:
|Anise||Anti-spasmodic, carminative||Muscle spasm, indigestion|
|Basil||Carminative, anti-spasmodic, analgesic, antibacterial||Blood circulation, indigestion, infections, pain, respiratory issues, skin care, stress disorders,|
|Bergamont||Anti-spasmodic, stimulant, analgesic||Muscular/rheumatoid pain|
|Camphor||Carminative, analgesic||Congestion, indigestion, muscular pain|
|Chamomile||Relaxant||Calms the digestive and mental|
|Cinnamon: depends on the type of cinnamon||Antibacterial, anti-oxidant, stimulant,
|Increases insulin resistance; reduces elevated glucose/lipids; decreases inflammation; inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor|
|Citronella: Ceylon & Java||Antibacterial, anti-depressant, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, insect repellent, stimulant||Mosquito repellent/humans, tick repellent/livestock & pets; helps heal wounds; prevent growth of bacteria and eases infections: colon, bladder, gastrointestinal, prostate & kidneys|
|Eucalyptus||Antibacterial, stimulates immune system,||Sinus issues, sore muscles|
|Frankincense||Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, Immune booster,||Spiritual enlightenment, chronic stress/anxiety; pain: arthritic; cancer, eliminate bacteria/viruses; gut issues: constipation, gas, cramps, IBS & speed up digestion; reduces stress/high blood pressure; asthma|
|Grapefruit||Anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, disinfectant, diuretic, stimulant, protects DNA||Jet lag, fatigue, weight loss, inflammation, sugar cravings|
|Lavender||Anti-oxidant, relaxant, blood glucose regulator;||Eliminates nervous tension; inc blood circulation, treats respiratory issues; eczema, psoriasis, headaches, insomnia, heals burns/wounds, post partum & PTSD,|
|Lemon||Antibacterial, anti-fungal, carminative, stimulatory,||Acne, concentration, improves digestion, promotes weight loss, colic relief, cough, gut issues|
|Oregano||Antibacterial, anti-oxidant, high nutrient source, carminative, regulates menstrual cycle;||Infections, weight loss, allergies, aches/stiffness, carminative|
|Peppermint||Purifies, stimulates CNS,||Overwhelmed students, indigestion|
|Tea tree oil:
Combination of tea tree oil and oil of oregano – great mix
|Anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-septic, anti-inflammatory||Skin problems (fungus (athlete’s foot/toenail fungus), blemishes, insect bites, sunburns, eczema, acne) head lice, herpes, Candida; ear aches; chicken pox, respiratory infections;|
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